Season: New Year 2008.
Starring: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, Idina Menzal, Timothy Spall, James Marsden and Susan Sarandon.
Certificate: PG: (Contains mildly scary scenes and brief innuendo).
Seen at: Parrs Wood Cinemas, Didsbury.
On: Sunday, January 20th, 2008.
When I was ten, I was taken to see 102 Dalmatians. It was brilliant – even more colourful, inventive, action-packed and funny than the original. Now its director, Kevin Lima (also the brains behind Tarzan) reinvents a mixture of classic Disney fairy-tales with a refreshing, modern twist, and a zingy combination of traditional animation and live-action. (The method is at its most charming when the two mediums are purposely intermixed together).
No sooner has the viewer let the spellbinding tones of ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’ wash over them, are they whizzed through the very window of the Walt Disney Castle Logo itself, to see that Princess Giselle, played by Junebug Oscar Nominee Amy Adams, is plunged into a traditionally-animated wishing well and thrown into our live-action New York.
Adams exaggerates every little eye-flickering gesture – it is an expertly judged performance.
Although the fairytale side of her is all set to wed her dashing but annoyingly stereotypically clichéd Prince Charming (played by X-Men’s James Marsden), predictably, she just can’t help falling for reluctant but charming divorce lawyer Robert (cue an appropriately understated performance from Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey.
However, all this is further complicated by Susan Sarandon’s wonderfully vicious Queen Narcissa who’ll stop at nothing to ensure that Princess Giselle doesn’t take over her crown (just a shame she isn’t granted quite enough screen time, even though she totally steals the show).
This is an endlessly inventive, refreshing piece of popcorn fodder, with gags suiting all ages, brimming to the very tip-top of the melting pot with poison apples happy endings, and – oh, purple dragons?! (Jon McLaughlin’s song: ‘So Close’ during the ballroom dance scene is very touching, and has deservedly been nominated at this year’s Oscars – as have two other musical numbers).
Many a dedicated Disney fan will revel in noticing parodies and in-jokes from most prominently Snow White, (such as the opening storybook shots and the rendition of ‘The Happy Working Song’ but also Cinderella, and even more recent successes like Shrek.
But what it lacks in originality, it makes up for in spades with shimmering costume, parades, songs, and a certain magical sparkle you can only truly obtain, from Walt Disney Pictures…!